Alaska..a personal view on what was and what could be
She had just loaded the last of the boxes into the waiting trailer but she still could not bring herself to walk out the door for the last time. She has lived here for almost 20 years and had built this house with her own hands on land that two decades ago was nothing but woods. Over the years her children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren have spent time with her here in her home. Years ago her mother had moved here and spent the last years of her life within these now silent walls. Her home like most of us holds memories of both laughter and tears, but unlike us she is now forced by the government to leave.
How can people over 500 miles away unthinkably effect the lives of so many so far away? No she is not alone in the loss of her home, many other people living out here in the wilderness will almost overnight become homeless. From old trappers living on their land for more than half a century to families who found a piece of Alaska they thought they could afford are now without a roof over their heads. All because people in a town so far away think they found a way to make more money.
In 2005 the Fairbanks North Star borough decided it wanted to expand its boundaries all the way to the Yukon river. In doing so they saw a way to increase their tax base to include two additional pump stations and maybe even some new gold mines. They did not for a second consider how this would effect the hundreds of families that lived within that area. People who could not afford to live within the city and barely made it month to month out here in the woods, would never be able to afford a tax on their property and homes.
A few made this problem known by going on television and the radio and their plight was met with understanding by the general public. A public that for years have shouldered the heavy weight of property taxes understood that with very little income these people would gain nothing and loose everything. The groundswell became so powerful that the borough tabled the proposal because they knew they would loose when put to a vote. It was a large victory for those who chose to live away from civilization, but is now once again threatened.
Nenana, a small town, (about 500+ people), in looking for a way to increase their tax base, (ie more money in the city coffers), decided it would be beneficial to become a borough. And not a small one but one hundreds of square miles in size that would wrap around the Fairbanks North Star borough and once again reach out to the Yukon river. The Nenana government only sees the increase in tax revenue from the additional villages of: Minto, Manley Hot Springs, Tanana and Rampart. Along with that add the new gold mines around Livengood, the pump stations and the biggest prize of all the proposed gas pipe line. Nenana like Fairbanks did not even consider the thousands of people who will not be able to afford to pay a property tax all they see once again is bigger bank accounts for Nenana.
As she wiped away the tears the truck made the last turn out of her driveway
and now she joined the hundreds of others
alone and homeless in the Alaskan wilderness.